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National Antivisection Society

Dogs burned alive in Chinese labs

. Updated: 16 May 2013


24th April 2004: Animal Defenders International (ADI) and our sister group The National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) are launching a campaign to shame the Chinese Government into halting cruel tests involving burning of dogs. The NAVS and ADI are calling on supporters to send a special postcard to the Chinese Embassy. Tim Phillips, Campaigns Director for ADI says: “These are perhaps the cruelest experiments we have ever uncovered, these dogs must have been in almost unimaginable agony. Worse still, these animals suffered and died in vain, there are ways of conducting this research without animals, and dogs are simply a bad research model for human beings."


The horrific series of experiments in which dogs are being burned alive took place at the Third Military Medical University at Chongqing, China. The experiments appeared in the Chinese scientific journal: ŒZhonghua Shao Shang Za Zhi. NAVS and ADI have uncovered three experiments published since 1999 and believe the programme of research continues. The 3 experiments involved:-

  • 37 dogs burned with napalm
  • 26 dogs were burned so severely that their brains swelled
  • 24 dogs were deliberately scalded and suffered steam inhalation injuries

Experiment 1: Dogs burned with napalm

The backs of 37 mongrel dogs were burned for 30 seconds with napalm, it is not known if any anaesthetic was used during this process (none is mentioned) but the animals were left with third degree burns (7 other dogs were not burned but used as a control, and killed at the end of the experiment).

The pain of napalm is so excruciating that people have died from the pain alone. The pain felt by the dogs would have been unbearable. The dogs were then kept alive with their agonising burns for three days. 72 hours of hell.

Then all 44 dogs were killed so that their organs could be examined. The researchers claimed to be examining the effects of resuscitation fluid on internal organs. It is known that napalm victims suffer from secondary effects such as blood and internal organs being affected. The research therefore would be unlikely to be able to differentiate between the effects on tissue of infusion of resuscitation fluid and the napalm itself.

Experiment 2: Dogs burned whilst their brains swelled

In order to determine the value of scanning equipment in diagnosing brain swelling due to excess water (oedema) following burns, dogs were inflicted with third degree skin burns, over half of their bodies. The researchers described this as “50% TBSA of third degree skin burns” - TBSA means Total Body Surface Area.

The dogs, covered in burns, underwent brain scanning at various time-points for up to 24 hours ­ described coldly by the researchers as “PBHs - Post Burn Hours"

As an indicator of how severe these injuries were, 1 in 10 children suffering 50% TBSA burn with inhalational injury would die.

Yet, scanning techniques such as MRI cause little or no suffering to people so it is difficult to understand why the information could not have been derived from studies of burns patients.

Experiment 3: Dogs scalded

24 mongrel dogs were used in an experiment in which 40% of their total body surface area was deliberately scalded, giving them third degree burns, and they were left alive for up to two days. Some of the dogs died from shock within 36 hours.


Third degree burns are the most serious burn injuries because they destroy all the layers of the skin; they are so deep that only the edges will heal, the rest being covered with scars unless skin grafts are performed.


Species differences - burns and wound healing

Animals are known to be poor models for humans in studies of burns and wound healing because of species differences. For example:

  • Attempts to evaluate burn therapy in animals are affected by many variables, some of which are unresolvable. The most difficult problem is to produce an experimental burn that is related to human burns. The type and thickness of skin, type of burn, species variability, environment, possibility of significantly elevating the core temperature in small animals and the postburn course all introduce potential sources of error when extrapolating results of animal studies to human burns.” (Wilson, ID. (1965) Journal of Surgical Research 5:443-447).
  • Wound contraction and epithelialization occur much faster in animals than in humans.” (Abstract: Mtsumara H et al. (1997) A burn wound healing model in the hairless descendant of the Mexican hairless dog. J. Burn Care Rehabil. 18: 306-12).
  • When human skin contracts during healing there is greater constriction and distortion due to a comparative lack of elasticity in human skin. (Jahoda CA & Reynolds AJ. (2001) Hair follicle dermal sheath cells: unsung participants in wound healing. The Lancet 358: 1445-1448).

Dogs are not people

  • Many features of anatomy and physiology are different in dogs and humans: for example, the vagus nerve, the carotid arterial tree, the intestinal circulation the muscles and the intestines.
  • If a dog suffers a major hypotensive episode, it dies of toxaemia, whereas a normal person would not.
  • The blood clotting mechanism of dogs are different from those of humans. A dog’s reaction to shock is different.
  • The main blood vessels supplying the dog’s brain are different from those in humans.
  • 6-azauridine (a cancer drug) can be used in people for long periods, but in dogs small doses produce potentially lethal results in a few days. (All ref: Animal Experiments: unreliable, unethical, unnecessary. NAVS 2001).


  • Using both cloned and bioengineered tissues, living human skin has been created for use as an experimental model for burns research. Not only does it replace animal models but it is superior because chemicals, probes and therapies used on actual burns patients would give immediate and relevant results. (Good Medicine, Spring/Summer 1998: 14)
  • The in vitro skin model can be used to study better methods to counter immune rejection of skin grafts. This is done by burning the engineered skin and then adding human white blood cells involved in the rejection process to the culture. (Abstract: Doolin EJ et al. (1999) The effect of leukocyte infiltration on apoptosis in an in vitro thermal injury bioartificial living skin equivalent model. J Burn Care Rehabil. 20 (5): 374-6).
  • In vitro skin models can be used to study the nature of problem of contraction of skin grafts in burns injuries and how to prevent them. (Abstract: Chakrabarty KH et al. (2001) Keratinocyte-driven contraction of reconstructed human skin. Wound Repair Regen. 2: 95-106).
  • Studies of the cytotoxic effects of chemicals on wound healing have been carried out on keratinocytes and fibroblasts grown in tissue culture. Also, the potential of chemicals to cause cell damage beneath the skin surface layer can be tested on fibroblasts and keratinocytes seeded onto a collagen matrix. For example, by the use of this test, capsaicin was determined to be unsuitable for topical application to burns. (Abstract: Ko F et al. (1998) Toxic effects of capsaicin on keratinocytes and fibroblasts. J Burn Rehabil. 19 (5) 409-13).
  • The healing of incisional wounds as well as burns can be studied without the use of animals. Normal human skin biopsies in which either burn or incisional wounds have been created are incubated in vitro. The skin renewal process (re-epithelialisation) can be studied at different time points and with different potential healing agents. (Abstract: Kratz G (1998) Modeling of wound healing processes in human skin using tissue culture. Micrsc. Res. Tech. 42 (5): 345-50).
  • Endothelialised skin equivalent (ESE): Several in vitro angiogenesis (formation of new blood vessels) models have been developed. Of particular interest with regard to the study of burns and wound healing is a human skin model which reproduces conditions found in angiogenesis in vivo. The model consists of endothelial and cutaneous skin cells grown on a scaffold (chitosan cross-linked collagen-glycosaminoglycan scaffold). Other cells, keratinocytes and fibroblasts, associated with skin and its connective tissue form an extracellular matrix. Capillary-like structures develop, simulating the characteristics of angiogenesis in vivo. (Black AF et al. (1999) A novel approach for studying angiogenesis: A human skin equivalent with a capillary-like network. Cell Biology and Toxicology 15: 81-90).

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